Media statement

Statement by Permanent Secretary for Health

COVID-19 Situation Update
Friday 28th May, 2021

We have 46 new cases to report, and they are all from the Central Division.
Forty-three of these cases are linked to existing clusters that were under investigation and detected through contact tracing and targeted screening. The 43 cases are as follows:

28 from Nadali in Nausori
3 are from Navosai and are linked to the Narere funeral cluster
2 from Muanikoso
9 from the navy cluster (8 from Kinoya and 1 from Nadonumai in Lami)
1 from the Samabula funeral cluster
3 new cases are currently not linked to other cases and are under investigation.
The Nadali community is now on day 29 of lockdown while Muanikoso is on day 6.

Two patients have recovered, which means there are now 195 active cases. All active cases are in the Suva-Nausori area containment zone. 2 of these active cases are in the intensive care unit.

Fiji has had 360 cases in total since our first case was reported in March 2020, with 161 recoveries and 4 deaths.

There has been a very significant increase in daily cases reported from the Suva-Nausori area. It is important to note that the majority of these cases have been found as a result of our extensive contact tracing effort and are linked to known clusters. This increase was not unexpected, but it should serve to show how easily this virus is transmitted and why restrictions are in place. We expect the number of cases to rise because we are testing aggressively in areas where we know the virus is spreading. We have a number of prominent locations under investigation including Government buildings and Kadavu house.

The virus is spreading within containment zones, so we will be exercising extra vigilance to ensure that there is no spread outside those containment zones. We will strengthen enforcement of COVID-safe restrictions such as restrictions on movement and gatherings, mask-wearing, physical distancing and the other measures designed to prevent people from coming into contact with the virus.
Activities surrounding funerals appear to be the most troublesome spreader events, and this is an alarming situation. Everyone should recall that this latest outbreak gained momentum when one person who contracted the virus in the border quarantine area attended a funeral, yet funeral gatherings continue to be sources of spread.

The death of a loved one is a difficult time for everyone, but people must adjust to the current situation and avoid funeral gatherings. The deceased must be buried, and we must pay our respects and accompany them during their last hours on earth, but we must temporarily find new ways to do this. Families are urged to limit graveside services to 10 persons and to limit gatherings before or after the burial to 10 persons or less. Our investigations indicate that in some instances, funeral gatherings of 100 were split up into 5 so-called “bubbles” of 20 persons. Many of you will understand that this does not make sense. We need good sense in the common sense space. We need to stop twisting and turning our Covid safe directives to suit our purposes. We need to treasure the memory of those we have lost and when more normal times return we can plan memorial events in which our loved ones are commemorated in a suitable way.

Vaccination Update

Since Monday, we have administered 19,348 vaccinations in the Suva-Nausori corridor and 24,042 in all of Fiji. To date, 18.5% of the targeted population have received at least one dose and 3117 individuals have had 2 doses. An additional 50,000 doses are due to arrive in the country by the end of the week. Once these doses are deployed, at least 260,000 persons will have got their first dose.
Restrictions Update–Western and Northern Divisions

The data for the Western Division is good but we need to be cautious. While we have been conducting an appropriate number of tests and have uncovered no new cases we will need to maintain our escalated community surveillance. The restrictions in the Western division are being reviewed and announcements will be made soon. We are doing the same with the Northern Division, where there is no evidence of transmission.

We will need to maintain restrictions on movement from Viti Levu to Vanua Levu in order to ensure that Vanua Levu remains transmission-free. We will be exploring and announcing soon protocols of movement that will allow persons who have not been home for long to return home. This virus has kept families apart and has caused undue social suffering. Our response has been firm and has proven successful in the Western division and in specific locations in the central division.

I want to urge all Fijians to stay the course and follow the practices that are necessary to contain this outbreak and get us back to normal. We understand that these lockdowns impose hardships on all of us, but they are unavoidable precisely because they are the only way to stop this infection from spreading. Avoid social gatherings. Maintain a social distance of at least two meters when you are outside your home and ensure your mask is properly worn. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for about 20 seconds each time. And download the careFIJI app.